September 2008 Archives

Google in ten years

To celebrate their tenth birthday Google’s official blog has asked ten of its “top experts” what’s going to happen in the next ten years. I must admit that the results are mostly underwhelming, as if these top experts find it difficult to look beyond their next quarter’s results and imagine what could possibly happen in ten years’ time. Brief summaries of each response below, with my thoughts in italics.

Central Nervous System for the Earth

HP Labs have a new(?) project, the Information and Quantum Systems Lab with an ambitious goal:

Science fiction writer Charlie Stross has written about how the world today is so interesting and so volatile that it’s currently impossible to write about the near future. Anything one might forecast for, say, 15 years ahead is, he suggests, more unlikely to occur than at any other time in our recent past.

Growing up online

I will never fully understand how young people today, who have grown up with the internet and mobile phones being completely normal, must view the world. There are several demographic certainties of the future (eg, the percentage of a population who will be over 65 in 2070 is easy to be sure of because they’ve all been born) and one of these is that everyone currently in their teens and younger have barely known a world without the net, and one day they’ll be in charge.

Shell's 2050 energy scenarios

Shell, the grandfathers of scenario planning, have a new set of scenarios that look at the world in terms of energy, through to 2050. There’s a PDF document that summarises the two scenarios — “Scramble” and “Blueprints” — and below is my summary of their summary. I must admit I’m not currently hopeful about our ability to cope with this stuff, given how poorly governments are able to handle other impending disasters… (Via City of Sound.)

No Space Elevator News

The Times has an article about “boffins” (quality journalism, eh?) from the Japanese Space Elevator Association (Google’s English translation) wanting to build a space elevator (a very long and strong cable tethered to Earth and stretching into the sky that would make it easier and cheaper to get things into space).

Gaming in 2043

Bruce Sterling recently gave the keynote address at the Game Developers Conference in Austin, Texas, on the subject of computer games thirty five years from now. It’s fairly long, and here’s a summary of a few of the more concrete bits:

Pranksters

At Conceptual Trends and Current Topics Kevin Kelly discusses a Wall Street Journal article about pranksters such as Improv Everywhere.

Geoscale engineering

The Economist has an article summarising a journal from the Royal Society titled ‘Geoscale engineering to avert dangerous climate change’. There are two basic ways to lower the Earth’s temperature and several ways of achieving both. The article summarises them:

Live gaming events

Here’s a report about a live broadcast of an event from the mulltiplayer online game World of Warcraft. 4,000 people are expected to watch a team of players perform a raid within the game world, an event that will take three to four hours.

Seasteading

Danny O’Brien has an interesting post about Seasteading — creating small autonomous states that can exist on platforms at sea, independent of existing governments.

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